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    Army Reserve’s first Area Support Medical Company breaks new ground in homeland emergency response

    Army Reserve’s first Area Support Medical Company breaks new ground in homeland emergency response

    Photo By Master Sgt. Angele Ringo | Maj. Darcie Greuel, 409th Area Support Medical Company (ASMC) commander, speaks with a...... read more read more

    BUTLERVILLE, IN, UNITED STATES

    05.10.2017

    Story by 1st Sgt. Angele Ringo 

    215th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    BUTLERVILLE, Ind.— The 409th Area Support Medical Company (ASMC) tackled its biggest challenge yet only a year after taking on responsibilities within the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response (CBRN) Enterprise or CRE, and it came in the form a ten kiloton nuclear bomb.

    “I think it was a little bit of a shock,” recalled Sgt. Michael Ciske, a medic with the 409th ASMC, about his reaction to seeing the disaster zone created at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC) in Butlerville, Ind., for the unit’s first major collective exercise. “I think a lot of the training before has been less simulated and what we’re getting here is a lot better of an experience and is just more realistic.”

    The 409th ASMC got that experience at Guardian Response 17, a multi-component training exercise at MUTC which brings together nearly 4,100 service members, and is designed to simulate and test the military’s ability to support civil authorities in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident. CRE units like the 409th ASMC, are part of a set of Department of Defense forces that can respond quickly to a CBRN event.

    The Madison, Wisconsin based unit was activated in 2013 and became the Army Reserve’s first and only Area Medical Support Company. ASMCs are not new to the Army but their use to support emergency CBRN operations stateside is new which meant the unit had to create its own blueprint for operations in a crisis.

    “We completely had to change our mindset from what we thought an ASMC should be if we were in theater vs. what the homeland mission would be,” said 409th ASMC Commander, Maj. Darcie Greuel. “We’re coming up with SOPs—all the standard operating procedures for an ASMC to be in this mission from an Army Reserve side of the house because we are the first ones.”

    For example, patient care providers like doctors, nurses and physician assistants were part of the 76-person battle roster, but unit executive officer and physician assistant, Cpt. Anthony Sanchez said, the nature of the mission made it necessary for them to adapt their Modified Table of Organization and Equipment (MTOE) to meet requirements.

    “We have to operate off that organic MTOE and change it up to fit the mission.” So, doctrinally, you have an ASMC mission but yet there really hasn’t been doctrine written for a unit like this with regard to [the] homeland, CBRN [and] triage, treat, transport. That’s where not just the challenges but excitement lie,” he said.

    During the exercise, the unit worked hand-in-hand with Soldiers from the 414th CBRN Company, based in Orangeburg, S.C. After the treatment site was established, the units had two and a half hours to set up before they had to decontaminate, triage, treat and transport dozens of role players with a variety of injuries as quickly as possible. Many of the unit’s medical staff also work in the civilian sector as patient care providers. That’s where Army Reserve Soldiers can enhance and improve the level of care said 1st Lt. Amie Billstrom, who is also an emergency room physician assistant at a level one trauma center in Milwaukee, Wis.

    “I think that kind of expertise really helps translate into this mass casualty DECON type setting in the fact that we do triage on a daily basis in our emergency rooms, in our waiting rooms. That is what our nurses do, that is what our providers do every day,” she said.

    The urgency of the mission requires Soldiers to train more frequently and maintain a higher state of readiness. CRE units remain on call for two years.

    “At first it’s really hard. We’re not a normal Army Reserve unit. We don’t drill one weekend a month. We drill for weeks at a time,” said Spc. Jessica Bickler, a unit medic. “It’s really great knowing we’re doing what we’re doing. This is on the homefront, it’s going to effect our families, our people, our communities, and so it’s really just a great mission to be on.”

    With one year already down, the 409th ASMC plans to hone its procedures and build on its experience, said Greuel, with the intent of making the mission run that much better for the next Area Support Medical Company.

    “We are the ones paving the way so that when the next ASMC gets selected to come on board, we’re going to be able to hand over an SOP manual, a lot of lessons learned and a lot of things to help them be successful on the mission.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.10.2017
    Date Posted: 05.12.2017 20:55
    Story ID: 233752
    Location: BUTLERVILLE, IN, US 

    Web Views: 236
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